Epuraea melanocephala (Marsham, 1802)

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CUCUJOIDEA Latreille, 1802

NITIDULIDAE Latreille, 1802

EPURAEINAE Kirejtshuk, 1986

Epuraea Erichson, 1843

This species occurs sporadically throughout the Palaearctic region from Portugal to the far east of Russia; it is locally common from lowland to middle mountain altitudes throughout Europe, Asia Minor and across North Africa and extends north into the UK and southern provinces of Fennoscandia. In the UK it is locally common across Wales and central and southeast England, generally absent from the southwest and sporadic and rare further north to the Scottish Border and in Northern Ireland although it is likely to be under-recorded due to its lifestyle. Adults are present year-round; they overwinter among moss and leaf-litter etc. and are active over a long season from early spring until November or December. The species is widely eurytopic and might be found in any situation; we have recorded them from chalk grassland, moorland, woodland and wetland margins and reed beds and they are sometimes common in our local wooded parkland, adults occur on various flowers including umbels and thistles and they may be abundant on hawthorn blossom etc. in the spring, they are also nocturnal and appear at sap and decaying fungi. Adults feed on nectar and pollen as well as sap and decaying organic matter and while little is known of the life cycle it is likely that larvae are saprophagous and develop among decaying organic matter through the summer. Sweeping foliage and flowers will sometimes produce adults, they often appear in flight-interception traps placed in trees and among samples of moss and decaying litter taken for extraction during the winter, and any of these methods may produce them in numbers, but nocturnal searching can be equally effective as they may be observed on bark or among decaying fungi and at sap, at this time they generally occur in small numbers but larger groups sometimes occur under bark etc., especially in the spring.

Epuraea melanocephala 1

Epuraea melanocephala 1

Epuraea melanocephala 2

Epuraea melanocephala 2

A rather nondescript species; broadly oval and discontinuous in outline, variable in colour but usually with the forebody dark and the elytra extensively, or at least to some extent, chestnut brown, but entirely black specimens occasionally occur, dorsal surface with fine recumbent pubescence, appendages entirely brown. 1.9-3.0mm. Head transverse with convex and prominent eyes and short converging temples, produced anteriorly to a free and articulated labrum, vertex and frons densely and moderately strongly punctured. Antennae inserted laterally in front of the eyes, 11-segmented with an abrupt 3-segmented club. Pronotum transverse, widest in front of rounded posterior angles and smoothly narrowed to round and slightly produced anterior angles, apical margin straight and much narrower than the sinuate basal margin, surface densely punctured throughout, narrowly explanate and smooth across the base; without fovea. Scutellum large and triangular. Elytra evenly curved from rounded shoulders to separately-curved apical margins, narrowly explanate and lacking striae, finely and densely punctured throughout, about the same as the pronotum. Legs short and robust, the femora at most only narrowly visible in normal setting, tibiae gradually widened from the base to truncate apices and with a small spur at the inner apical angle. Tarsi 5-segmented, the basal segments bilobed and the terminal segment long and curved. Claws smooth and with a large blunt tooth at the base, this will distinguish melanocephalus from our other members of the genus, all of which lack this basal tooth although in some they are slightly thickened at the base.